john davies
notes from a small curate


    Blue Coat School 05/11/03

    1 Corinthians 15.50-58

    What relevance has Remembrance got today, eighty-ninety years after its inauguration? Who do I know who died in WW1 or 2? Isn't it all a bit morbid, this preoccupation with death, isn't remembrance like one never-ending funeral service? Isn't it time we let it pass gently away and moved on?

    Here's a statement which doesn't answer those questions directly but offers some perspective: Remembrance works for those who live in hope.

    We sometimes find it hard to see the signs of hope around us. There are so many overwhelming signs of struggle, tragedy and suffering, so many people worried about their futures.

    If we look at what lies before us for ourselves and the world, it sometimes seems that death is more powerful than life, greed is more common than generosity and kindness and the idea of hope something that is hard to sustain.

    But for all its imperfections and complexities, Remembrance can be one of the fragile signs of hope which we see around us.

    Remembrance is an opportunity for us to consider those people who believed that evil could be overcome, and were prepared to put their lives on the line to help that happen. Of course, you might think, their hope didn't help them: the result of their hope was their death. But Thomas Merton said:
      "Do not depend on the hope of results ... concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself."
    The truth about those we remember this week, is that they lived in hope, the hope of a better world, and their memory offers hope to those who share their vision today. Of course, we may want take the lessons of two World Wars and the conflicts which have followed to try learning new ways of building a better world.

    We may agree with peace activist Daniel Berrigan who rejects military solutions in favour of living nonviolently, observing, as he puts it, "the total inability of violence to change anything for the better"

    We may see the sense in former US President Jimmy Carter's words as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize last December:
      "We cannot build peaceful relationships by killing each other's children."
    By seeking new solutions to the world's problems we don't dishonour the memory of those who died; rather we share their hope. Desmond Tutu has spent his life championing nonviolent ways of building a better South Africa. His words express the hopeful vision of those we remember this week:
      Goodness is stronger than evil,
      love is stronger than hate,
      light is stronger than darkness,
      life is stronger than death,
      victory is ours through him who loved us.


    Merton, Berrigan, Carter, Tutu quotes from the Peace and Justice Resource Centre of the Mennonite Church.

    "We sometimes find it hard to see the signs of hope around us." paragraph from A Space for Hope, meditation in Dorothy McRae-McMahon, In This Hour - Liturgies for Pausing.